Never Say This to Someone Suffering from Depression

· August 9, 2016
Unless you yourself have depression, you can’t know what the person suffering from depression is going through, so never question or downplay their feelings.

Supporting someone suffering from depression can be difficult. Sometimes it’s tempting to distance yourself from that person rather than risk saying or doing something that could worsen the situation, but don’t do it.

Your friend or relative who is living with this disorder needs your help now more than ever. However, don’t say the following things to a person suffering from depression, because it could make them feel even more alone.

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You need to keep in mind that some of the most well-meaning phrases can have a different meaning for someone suffering from depression. The last thing a person in this situation needs is to feel as if their emotional state is misunderstood.

Things You Should Never Say to Someone Suffering From Depression:

1. “Why can’t you just be happy?”

Depression causes a person to have a distorted vision of the world, seeing everything from a negative or sad vantage point. Talking about happiness can be daunting and make them even more hopeless if they are unable to see it at the time.

There’s no quick fix for depression, and insisting on or expecting a sudden shift can reinforce feelings of discouragement and failure.

2. “There are drugs and therapy for people with depression.”

Bottle of pills spilling onto table suffering from depression
Some people are afraid to ask for help because of the stigma that’s often associated with mental illness. They may not want to expose how they feel because we live in a culture where only those who are highly productive are valued.

Medication can be a major cause of stress because of preconceived notions or beliefs about dependency or side effects. All of this is combined to create a general fear of altering their fundamental psyche or “losing” themselves.

It’s okay to mention the option of going through therapy, but never force someone to follow that path. Most of the time it just takes a little while before they are willing to take that step.

3. “Just focus on getting past it.”

People who aren’t depressed don’t experience decreases in their physical or psychological energies, but these two symptoms are very common in patients with depression.

You may have the best intentions when you tell someone who is depressed to get up and do something to make them feel better, like going out, traveling, or trying to have a little fun.

While this is understandable, for someone suffering from depression it can actually increase their level of despair. No one wants to overcome these feelings more than they do, but they don’t know how.

Their moods, thoughts, and behaviors are beyond their control, even more so if they have severe depression.

4. “It’s not so bad, other people are going through much worse.”

Woman with bangs staring out window glamorized suffering from depression
No one wants to be compared to starving children living in a combat zone, or people living with an end-stage disease. Why would you force a depressed person to think about that? Do you really think it would make them feel better?

People who suffer from depression often have thoughts that become psychotic or delusional. When you insist on comparing their life with the lives of others, they will usually feel even worse.

While you mean well, you won’t achieve anything by saying this to them.

5. “You’ll feel better tomorrow.”

This condition is not the type of thing that goes away overnight. That kind of false expectation will only further discourage someone with depression. Only people who have experienced depression firsthand really know how deep the pain, suffering, and hopelessness can be.

With the proper medical approach, it is possible to overcome depression, but it takes time. Saying this sort of thing just makes them feel more uncomfortable and paralyzed.

6. “You brought this upon yourself.”

Woman sitting in an alley crying depressive episode suffering from depression
People make judgments all the time, which can be a serious mistake when you rely only on your personal values, a lack of information, or ignorance about the subject in general.

Mankind has related depression with sin for centuries. It was thought that this condition was a punishment for he who violated the laws of the “gods.” In fact, there are still people who refer to issues related to sin and punishment when they speak of depression

As you might guess, this attitude has dramatically negative consequences, only worsening the state of the person who suffers from depression.

7. “Don’t be so negative.”

It’s difficult to be around someone with depression. Their low energy and somber mood can “bring you down,” and many people instinctively turn away. Sometimes people reach the point that they openly voice the anxiety that a depressed person has caused them.

Yes, without a doubt their mood doesn’t improve yours. However, when you say that to someone who is suffering from depression, it makes them feel lonely and only increases their negative emotions.

The best way you can help is by being supportive and doing all you can to find the right resources to address this problem.

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Depression is a Serious Issue

No, depression is not purely psychological, nor is there a specific time to cure it. There doesn’t even need to be an exact reason for it.

In the end, to be depressed is to stop being able to see the meaning of life because of a million different factors: family problems, the death of a loved one, failures at work, and more.

Nevertheless, without exception, having depression means facing a daily struggle to survive. Keep this in mind when you want to say one of these phrases to someone suffering from depression. It won’t help them, and it will actually worsen the situation.

If you’ve never suffered from depression, try to listen to them and let them know that you understand, even if you don’t. Try to empathize with the feelings they have: they feel down oftentimes for no reason at all, which is frustrating and makes you feel hopeless.

Finally, we hope this article has helped show you how you can support your loved ones suffering from depression.

 

  • Stice, E., Ragan, J., & Randall, P. (2004). Prospective relations between social support and depression: Differential direction of effects for parent and peer support?. Journal of abnormal psychology113(1), 155.
  • Nasser, E. H., & Overholser, J. C. (2005). Recovery from major depression: the role of support from family, friends, and spiritual beliefs. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica111(2), 125-132.